Cyclopropenimines are shown to be a highly effective new class of enantioselective Brønsted base catalysts. A chiral 2,3-bis(dialkylamino)cyclopropenimine catalyzes the rapid Michael reaction of a glycine imine substrate with high levels of enantioselectivity. A preparative scale reaction to deliver 25 g of product is demonstrated, and a trivial large scale synthesis of the optimal catalyst is shown. In addition, the basicity of a 2,3-bis(dialkylamino)cyclopropenimine is measured for the first time and shown to be approximately equivalent to the P(1)-tBu phosphazene base. An X-ray crystal structure of the protonated catalyst is shown along with a proposed mechanistic and stereochemical rationale.
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